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Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 8


Before a body shop makes the final decision to change to waterborne they should be aware of not only the advantages of using waterborne technology, but also the points of difference from their current solventborne system.
All suppliers have a different change-over strategy, this should be made very clear and the body shop should ensure it suits them. The shop management needs to check off a number of points.
Are there systems in place to measure the KPI’s (key performance indicators) of the products so the body shop can get a true comparison between their current solvent and the new waterbase systems?
Does the shop plan to run a waterbase system alongside its current solvent (and thus incur the extra cost of running two systems)?
Are colours accurate, especially local manufacturers’ colours, as most systems are developed in Europe?
Are all staff aware of the differences and willing to accept the change?
What is the cost relating to the change? Is the paint shop equipped for the change over? This will depend on a range of factors, such as the type of work, throughput, equipment needed, staff, location of shop, etc.
How many systems are in the relevant market?
Heat and humidity affect the drying of waterborne and it may be a good idea to speak to body shops which are currently using the products. Waterborne systems are generally reduced using deionized water so drying can’t be influenced without the use of a drying system. Glasurit has viscosity reducers which gives the waterbase system drying characteristics similar to solventborne systems.
The shop needs to be aware that waterborne technology is – litre for litre – dearer than solvent, but how much varies between brands. All should balance out as waterborne has better covering power than solvent. The body shop should look at not only the cost of the mixing base but also the RFU (ready for use) cost as some systems use 100 per cent mixing base for mixing a colour, while Glasurit uses only 30 per cent mixing base (the other 70 per cent is a type of binder).
Shelf life should be considered. The average waterborne mixing base has a shelf life of 12 to 24 months; Glasurit is 60 months. Shelf life not only affects how long a mixing base stays on system in the body shop but also supply, as most systems are imported. The questions needing answers include: When was the batch produced? How long did it take to arrive? How long has it been stored prior to delivery? And what time is left until expiry?
OH&S is a big part of an employer’s responsibility. The use of waterbase reduces the risks associated with continual use of solvent.
Training is a big part of the success of a change-over. How competent are the paint brand’s field technicians? Do they run a successful training programme? This could be answered by discussion with shops currently using the relevant brand of waterbase. A lot of waterbase systems are painted in an unconventional way. Glasurit 90 line is painted the same way as solvent.
Although there is as yet no legislation to drive the change from solvent to water, the benefits of using the product should be considered:
•    The majority of OEMs now produce vehicles in waterbase.
•    The way in which effect pigments (metallic) lays in the paint film will more closely replicate OEM.
•    Waterbased paint is a non-aggressive basecoat.
•    The painting of solvent-sensitive OEM waterbase finishes will no longer be an issue, eliminating the need for rework relating to ring-up or fry-up.
•    OH&S benefits from less solvent used in processing and equipment clean-up.
•    A unique way to market your business.
•    Environmentally friendly.
•    Easy to use.
Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and seriously consider this major step in the evolution of your business and your shop.

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 7


Adopting a new product and new techniques is never going to be easy, especially with staff that may be rigidly stuck in systems that have been successfully doing the job for many years. Converting to waterborne paint is going to mean training for everyone involved, from the top to the bottom, so if you are looking to make the switch, plan it in as importantly as any piece of hardware you’re proposing to buy to go with the move.
The key to a successful transition is awareness. Everyone involved in the paint repair process should have a good understanding of what is going to change relating to product and process procedures prior to the change over. This also includes office staff and management. As it takes a number of years for a spray painter to perfect not only application technique but also problem solving, it could be said “it would be unrealistic to expect the change over from solvent to waterborne to be hassle free.” However this is not the case, as the repair process is virtually identical and most painters would find the transition easy with some basic training and awareness.
Thirteen years ago when Aquabase came into the repair industry it didn’t work because the industry wasn’t ready for it, the acceptance wasn’t there. The message has to be driven home, that people have to change the way they think.
“Spray painters are practical people and therefore think visually,” explained Glasurit’s Technical Sales Support Manager, Ian Johnson. “To become efficient in waterborne it requires not only a theoretical awareness as mentioned above but also a process of hands-on, practical lessons. Before a shop makes up its mind to go to waterborne the senior staff should go and see the product, in application and in a finished form. Most paint companies run evaluation days of some form to allow the customer to come and have a look at the product.
“You’ll want to see the product being used in a typical repair scenario, not just painting a small panel or area showing how quick waterborne can dry. Ideally look for a paint job to the front end of a vehicle, or a three-panel repair or in a blend scenario, then you can see how it works and how you might use it in your shop.”
Having seen it in use, then consider the implications of the change. Do not proceed with the idea unless everyone involved – management and staff – is one hundred per cent committed to the process. Any resistance will lead to problems.
Once your mind is made up that you are going to make the change it is recommended that some form of formal training take place. “Any reputable paint company will give you the level of training required,” said Johnson. Ensure your paint supplier has a credible change over programme, this will ensure down time is keep to a minimum. Part of that is ensuring your painters follow recommended procedures and are efficient in the way they’re using solvent product, because if they’re not, or if they’re into taking shortcuts. If so they will more than likely have problems resulting in rectification.
A competent painter ought to require about four to five days of training, partly in-house at the paint company and partly on-sight.
A worst case scenario is that a waterborne paint system is just dropped off and left to the painter to find his own way. All that will do is leave another bad taste in the painter’s mouth and he’ll never want to touch it again.

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 6


It has to be said right at the beginning that kilo for kilo, litre for litre, waterborne paint is more expensive. However, like all things there are other factors that work to make it cheaper, especially once you’ve had experience with it and know how to use it.
Every manufacturer’s paint will vary, and one way to assess it is by theoretical spread rate. Each manufacturer’s spread rate will be different, but in essence waterborne paint, with its higher level of solids, will cover more area per litre, and the reality will be that to paint a given surface area will require less paint. The result is often that the cost is about the same or even less for any given job. It is also advisable to ask your paint manufacturer to demonstrate the product so you can get a first hand look at what water can really do.
As stated in this series of articles before, it’s a common problem for a painter, when first converting to water, to still mix his paint in the proportions he’s used to with solventborne and to end up with paint left over, which he throws away.
“Also note that many water-based systems are 100 per cent product usage, meaning, 100% tinting base is used when mixing formulation, so they could be quite expensive if you don’t get your quantities right,” said Glasurit’s Technical Sales Support Manager, Ian Johnson, “but a true waterborne paint, such as Glasurit, you convert to water and you’re only using 30 per cent tinting base in the mix and your costs should be lower.”
If you’re not putting through a lot of work, or you’re in an area of a lot of temperature change you can add cost because there are factors related to shelf life limitations with waterbase paint. Most waterbase tinting system have a shelf life of 12 months. Glasurit waterborne tinting bases, have a shelf life of five years, but like all ancillary products such as the viscosity adjusters or the reducer shelf life is limited to 12 months, but since these are used in everyday applications,they are in constant use and are quickly consumed.
This compares to a solvent paint shelf life of three to five years.
When it comes to equipment it will pay to have your current set-up assessed by someone who knows what they’re looking for. There are several areas which will need to be addressed.
Your current compressor and attachments will need to be examined. Is it large enough to meet the needs of the extra air which might be required for spraying or drying? If the compressor seems large enough but the supplied volume is struggling you could be losing air though fractures or faulty fittings in the hoses, or have air lines which are too small. Is the supplied air clean enough, as waterborne paint is more prone to defects related to unwanted oil or other foreign material in the air.
Is the filtration system of your spray booth adequate to provide you with clean air? Is the booth air flow adequate? Does it need to be upgraded? You will need a minimum drying system such as a hand held or air diffuser type.
“To keep costs down and to suit the characteristics of waterborne paint you would be strongly advised to go to HVLP spray guns, if you don’t already have them,” stated Johnson. “This will mean the transfer efficiency of the gun is at a premium, therefore getting the most out of the product.”
There are other drying systems, such as the Junair QADS or the Garmat systems, which can make a big difference in terms of the time a job is in the booth, and your decision on these will be based on throughput or how many painters or booths you have.
“If you’re only doing small jobs, and your average repair is two to three panels or small rapid repairs your hand held blower or air diffuser will probably be sufficient,” Johnson continued, “but if you’re pumping the work through, or you’re in a cold climate area, or you have a lot of painters and only one booth then you can improve your drying time with an air movement system. Some claim efficiencies in drying time for solvent paints and clearcoats, and reductions of up to 10 minutes in bake cycles, and if you’re putting through five cars a day that can add up to another car through the booth each day.”
You may find that with waterborne there will be happier customers with better paint jobs, and even happier painters, because approximately 70 per cent of vehicles today are painted in water-based paints by the OEM factories, and blends or matching paint will become easier. There will be a reduction in problems associated with using solventborne paint for a repair on a water-painted vehicle, including solvent sensitivity caused by the solvent biting into the waterborne coating causing “ring-up” and “fry-up” and similar issues. As more manufacturers switch to waterborne it will become a basic requirement to repair their vehicles.
Also look at the cost of training: Is it part of the package or will it be charged? What down-time might it cause in the shop? Normally with a change-over there is some training involved, partly in-house and partly in a training centre. It is advisable to speak to your paint supplier in relation to this.

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 5


This month we will look at the “limitations of waterborne paint”, but the difficulty is that there aren’t that many limitations outside of the changes in techniques and work patterns to which you have already become accustomed.
Anything that you can do with a solvent paint you should be able to do with water. The processes may be different, but the outcomes will be the same.
An example is the painting of engine bays. Some of the industry short cuts which have been employed with solvent won’t be available to you with water. The hardening of solvent basecoat – instead of applying your basecoat and a matt clear – to achieve a higher level of gloss can’t be done. Some companies have a converter for that process, and Glasurit has a product to achieve a similar result, but it is a limitation.
The view of “limitations” will also depend on your definition of the word. For example, if yours is a high production shop then you are going to need some form of retrofitted ancillary air movement/drying system in your spray booth, such as a set of Junair QADS, and that will come at a cost. Without this the paint will dry, but it will take longer than a solvent-based paint, especially if it’s cold or humid. If you have a shop which does not depend on rapid throughput of work then this will not be an issue for you, and there will be no “limitation” on that score.
“Some waterborne systems have limitations in regards to colour,” explained Glasurit’s Technical Sales Support Manager, Ian Johnson. “Glasurit isn’t one of them – any colour which can be mixed in our solvent line can be mixed with our waterborne line – but there are some limitations with some waterborne technologies in terms of colours. This would mostly apply in metallic and ‘effect’ type colours.”
Johnson continued, “This whole topic of ‘limitations’ is often brought up and discussed. There’s an expectation that there will be limitations; that water can’t be as good or as efficient as a solvent paint. The only real problem is one of education, and the body shops just need to be educated that there are no real limitations to waterborne.”
One of the expectations of a change to waterborne is that it will cost more: A new technology will cost more is the belief. And pound for pound, gram for gram, litre for litre it will cost more, but if used correctly you will use less paint per job and thus you will save money.
While jobs will vary, and brands will vary, you should use up to only half as much paint per job, and while the price per litre might be up to 20 to 30 per cent dearer, the net saving is significant. This might only become apparent once you have properly adapted to the product, technology and the volumes required per job, as the common response from painters new to the paint is to prepare too much paint per job initially until they become familiar with the requirements.
“The change to waterborne is all about mindset,” said Johnson. “Forget about what you’ve learned in the past, this is a new technology. You need to accept and adopt that technology and techniques and move forwards or else you’re going to have problems and limitations in the way it’s used.
“There are more advantages in using water than solvent these days. With the majority of OEMs painting their cars in waterborne it’s preferable to be refinishing cars in water.”
Johnson pointed out that a lot of waterborne paints have a limited shelf life, with a lot of the tinters having a limit of 12 months, though some, like Glasurit, have a limit of five years, because it’s a true waterborne system as compared to a water-based system. Ancillary products, such as reducers or viscosity adjusters have a limit of 12 months. True waterborne primers which can be used with these systems have a life of 12 months.
Water-based paint systems can have troubles with cold weather – a potential problem in colder regions during winter – that will require heated storage and warmed air systems. Similar problems can apply in extreme heat, where the paint can start to thicken through the rapid loss of water, requiring the use of a lot of viscosity adjuster.
Issues such as the required use of different paint strainers or masking tapes are not limitations but more points of difference.
On the issue of masking tapes, Johnson pointed out that while most masking tapes on the market today are suitable for use with waterborne paint, there are still some around which will start to lift if they are used with water-based paints. Make sure you choose an appropriate brand.
Most equipment will require no change.

Attending training with the manufacturer of your chosen brand of paint is a significant and necessary step in adopting waterborne paint. The whole shop needs to be prepared for and enthusiastic about the change or it’s unlikely to be a successful move.

While you can use any spray gun, HVLP is preferred simply because it will limit the application of too much paint and result in excess drying time, as discussed previously. HVLP has been around for years, and some older painters don’t like it because it requires a change in techniques and they prefer to continue to stick with what they learned decades ago. This attitude is the very problem which will limit the successful adoption of waterborne paint, which requires a similar preparedness to accept change in a number of areas.
“For a conversion to waterborne to be successful, everybody’s attitude needs to be right,” reiterated Johnson, stressing a point he’d made to ABN before. “It’s not just the body shop owner, but also the painters and technicians who must be enthusiastic for the change, and to achieve that it is all about education. There are different methods that all paint companies employ, but education is the key and is very necessary.”

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 4


There are a lot of myths about waterborne basecoat and its application – many of which aren’t true or are, at best, highly inaccurate – but the basic core message with preparing a surface for painting and applying the paint is care and cleanliness.
Waterborne basecoat is more susceptible to contamination, therefore a two step pre-cleaning process is recommended. This is required as contaminants are either solvent or water (salt residue) soluble. Pre cleaning should be done firstly with a solvent based cleaner followed by the recommended waterbase cleaner. This will ensure all contaminants have been removed, which can impact the waterborne basecoat. This also applies to air quality in the compressor system.
Oil can be present in compressed air, and as is well known, water and oil don’t mix. The presence of oil in your compressed air during the application of waterborne basecoat will result in defects such as “fish-eyes” and other imperfections throughout the job. therefore it is vital that you have a quality filtration system on your air supply lines to trap any oil or other contaminants.
Preparation should always be as near as possible to 100 per cent perfect in any paint job, but one issue which requires longer term care is the capacity for waterborne to hide imperfections in the preparation. Solvent based paints, especially silvers, can highlight scratches in poorly prepared surfaces. The capacity for waterborne – with its higher solids content and its non-aggressive nature – to hide imperfections can lead some painters to over apply the product. This approach will cause extended flash-off and if clear coated too early can lead to drop in gloss.
One aspect which does require care is the mixing process. The higher solids content means accurate colour formulation mixing is a must as it will take very little overpour of tinting base to alter the accuracy of a colour. While product usage is reduced consideration should be given to how much tinting base is required to make an actual mix. With most brands of waterborne basecoats 100 per cent tinting base is used during this process, but with Glasurit waterborne 70 per cent of the mix is binder so you use less tinting base in the final job.
Going hand in hand with this is the viscosity of the paint, which relates to the “sprayability” of the product. This is influenced by ambient air temperature in the booth or area where it is being applied. It is this ambient temperature which governs reduction of the basecoat, not that of the air passing through the spray gun. There is no point mixing paint in a paint room at 18℃ and then spraying it in a booth at 25℃. Ideally, both areas should be at the same constant temperature. Most systems’ technical data sheets suggest the ideal spraying viscosity measured at 20℃. The viscosity will determine the mixing ratio of the paint and the reducer. For most waterborne paints the mixing ratio will be in the order of 10 to 15 per cent of demineralised (distilled) water, but can vary up to as much as 50 per cent with Glasurit, using its special viscosity adjuster.
Next the painter will need to consider relative humidity. Humidity effects the drying of waterborne basecoat. By adjusting spraying conditions with your spray booth, the processing and painting of waterborne basecoat is made simple. Glasurit has two viscosity adjusters used for different climatic conditions.
One issue which will take a little time to get used to is the amount of paint you prepare for each job. Most body shops find that when they start using waterborne they are using more paint than when they used solventborne paint. This is counter to all the publicity, but comes about as a result of uncertainty about the amount of product required.
Most painters, when new to the waterborne system, tend to prepare more paint than they need, and the surplus is wasted, but as they become more efficient with the use of the product and experienced at assessing their needs consumption will lower.
One way around this, as mentioned in the last issue of ABN, is to use a tintable primer, which can be adjusted to suit the colour of the basecoat. This can eliminate the need for a basecoat in a similar colour and eliminate one step of the painting process and the time for it to flash-off. This applies most especially to reds. Tintable primers and waterborne basecoat go hand in hand.
Application techniques for waterborne can vary from brand to brand, and the colour to be used can also have an impact on the way in which you will apply it.
Glasurit 90 Line has been developed to be sprayed in the same manner as a solvent-based paint so that there is very little required for the painter to adapt to their waterborne paint. In that case the application technique is still structured around a cycle of half coat – flash-off, full coat – flash-off – and then a control coat for colour reproduction.
There is some fine tuning around that in relation to how much product is used and how wet a coat should be applied with the full coat or control coat. That’s something that will come to the painter with hands-on experience with the product and its use.
“By the time you get to the control coat there’s very little flash-off time required because of the flash-off which has gone on before,” said Glasurit’s Technical and Sales Support Manager Ian Johnson. “And there’s very little time required before you start clear coating because of all this.
“With other brands of waterborne, most required to be painted around a cycle of half coat and full wet coat in one application, followed by a full control coat dropped on top then an extended flash off before clearcoating. This is despite some manufacturers promoting the claim that there is no need for intervening flash-off.”
Whatever the product or process required the important thing is to allow the basecoat to fully flash-off before clearcoating. There is a danger of trapping water which can result in loss of gloss and other problems if you do not get that final big flash-off right.

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 3


You learn at your mother’s knee that water dries. Every time you spilt a glass of cordial or watched your mum hang out washing you learned anew that water evaporates, and will dry.
But mum didn’t have to comply with financial constraints or meet bank payments or pay rent from the washing. At least ours never did.
So what makes any body shop which wants to paint with waterborne paints think it can get away without a drying system, especially in colder climates or winter weather, especially if you have to meet the requirements of deadlines or throughput.
Humidity and temperature will have a significant effect on how fast waterborne paint will flash off. This is due to the simple fact that you cannot control the evaporation rate of water. On days which have high humidity, flash off times could be increased,, or in climates where high temperature and very low to no humidity is experienced, such as in Western Australia, it can dry too quickly making blending of difficult colours almost impossible. Glasurit overcame these difficulties by the introduction of a slow viscosity adjuster.
Due to the affect different climatic conditions can have on the painting of more “difficult” colours, such as silver, a body shop may wish to consider arranging day to day work schedules around the monitoring of temperature and humidity. This is not to say that difficult colours cannot be painted in less than perfect conditions, but by doing this the body shop would ensure maximum through-put of work as booth time would be kept to a minimum. By optimising both booth time and climatic conditions you also reduce the risk of exposing the basecoat to dust and other imperfections which will have an impact on the end result.
With the drying of waterborne paints at the very minimum you are going to need an air diffuser or a hand-held blower system to dry the basecoat, simply because water evaporates more slowly than solvent.
There are a number of different options open to you on the market today. These can range from simple hand held blowers to a “tree” with several of these blowers mounted on it, to larger installed systems that will alter the linear air movement within the booth.
It basically comes down to air movement as the necessary component for drying waterborne. Your standard spray booth air flow just doesn’t provide enough air movement to adequately dry paint under sills or beneath body contour lines, or in areas where there is paint overlap.
This is where you have to look at your existing set-up. The “tree” arrangements seem simple and are relatively low cost, but a body shop should ensure its air supply can handle the added demand of air flow.
A set of Junair QADS, for example, will cost you more, but they do a very efficient job of moving air and quickly raising temperature in the booth. The only criticism we have heard of them is that they can move so much air that they can potentially lift dust off the floor and onto the paint job, so care needs to be taken with cleanliness.
The Garmat Accel Cure system of fans, which mounts along the centreline of the spray booth roof, minimises that risk but requires removal every time you want to change ceiling filters in your booth, and this can be a difficult process. Overall, general house keeping must be a high priority with the use of waterborne basecoat.
Spraying of rapid repairs can be undertaken with a hand held blower, which can achieve a quick flash-off time simply by swapping the air line from the gun to the blower, and then back to the gun for the next coat.
A lot of the secret with spraying waterborne revolves around the painter’s approach. On a respray, in the past a painter might start at the rear quarter, then work down one side, across the bonnet, down the other side, across the boot and then finish on the turret. With waterborne, to gain the most efficiency, you need to think of the area which is going to be the slowest to achieve flash-off and then paint that first. This will be the horizontal surfaces, since they are traditionally wetter in painting. Thus, these panels will stay wetter for longer, so it is recommended that you paint these areas first, maybe painting the turret, bonnet and boot lid first, then the vertical panels, so that by the time you have finished you have given those wetter areas longer to flash-off. It’s just a matter of thinking the job through and changing old habits. There’s no more work involved, just a different order of doing things.
If you are doing a front end repair – let’s say a bonnet, front guard and a door – you might like to place your “tree”, if you have one, adjacent to the last panel you are painting. That way the first panels to get paint will have a chance to be flashing-off while the last, and thus wettest, panel will have the assistance of the blower to achieve flash-off. It’s a matter of working smarter, not harder.
Another option is to simply spray air through your gun to assist any wetter areas. It’s not recommended that you blow air over solventborne paint as you run the risk of solvent entrapment. As waterborne basecoat uses water and not solvent to reduce the spray viscosity it’s 100 per cent recommended to blow air over the paint. However, if you don’t dry waterborne properly you can entrap water, as you can with solventborne paints, so you can end up with blistering or a loss of gloss in the clearcoat.
With poor covering colours the normal approach with solventborne is to apply a half coat and then full coats until coverage is achieved, but you are actually putting the paint on heavy and wet. In waterborne this will extend flash-off time since you have a lot of product there. It may be found that it is better to apply several lighter coats before the final full coat, thus achieving the final job in less time because you were getting to flash-off more quickly.
Alternatively, the use of black and white primer or grey shades can eliminate the need for basecoat ground coats resulting in faster drying. Most modern effect colours require the use of coloured ground coats to achieve the correct colour match. For example, a red pearl requires a grey ground coat. If it’s a new panel then mix up a grey wet on wet primer in the same shade of grey and do not use the grey ground coat. Apply your red pearl top coat straight over the wet-on-wet, again reducing the amount of paint used and flash-off time required.
The same can be done with sandable primers. Mix your black and white primer, which your manufacturer’s formulation will give you, and by following this course half the job is already done in the primer process.
The overall picture is that waterborne can be dried as efficiently as any solventborne paints if you approach the job with the right attitude.
The change to waterborne technology requires an open mind. If all employees in a body shop do not have a positive approach to the decision to use waterborne, it is likely to fail. It is vital that both management and the painter technicians are in agreement that waterborne technology is the right step forward and with this in mind, and if you receive the essential correct training on the use of the product the transition to water will be made easy.

Waterborne Paint: The Beginner’s Guide – Part 2

#2: Do I have to buy new equipment?

So you’re pondering making the switch to waterborne, are you? Maybe, but why should I? you ask.
Well, for a start, if you don’t do it voluntarily the government is likely to force it upon you, and if that’s the way it happens you could well end up without full training if the deadline is tight. You’ll just be part of the crowd being jammed through in the limited time available.
Got you thinking, have we? Yeah, but is it going to cost me money? you respond. Do I have to spend a lot of money on new equipment?
The answer is, surprisingly little if you want, but if you want to do it well, with a lot of throughput, it could be a bit more. The choice is yours and will depend upon your circumstances.
Your existing spray booth may be suitable as it is, advises Ian Johnson, the Technical Sales Support Manager for Glasurit paints, it will depend on the age and condition of the booth. Some equipment may need to be upgraded.
“One of the issues with waterborne paint is that the surface tends to naturally stay wet for a little longer, so it’s more prone to picking up dust and dirt between coats,” he said. “If there isn’t the air flow there to encourage a rapid flash-off of the paint then it’s going to be difficult to get a good job. For the shops, who regularly update their equipment and have a good maintenance regime in their booths that isn’t likely to be an issue.”
Even with good existing air flow through a booth drying will be greatly enhanced by the use of a specifically designed drying system, such as the Junair QADS. They speed up the process of flash-off and drying waterborne paint – as well as solventborne – but they aren’t an absolute necessity unless you want the same efficiencies as you get from solventborne paints.
You are going to need some sort of small air supply or one of the hand-held units at a minimum.
Your booth filters are going to be okay, but because waterborne paint has a higher pigment level to give you coverage, you might find your filters will clog more quickly, so keep an eye on cabin pressures and increase your maintenance schedules, especially for the floor filters on a downdraft booth.
You will need to switch away from your conventional paint strainers, which are traditionally a cardboard funnel held together with water soluble glue. Obviously, if you put a waterborne paint through one of these it will fall apart, so you will need to go to a plastic-based filter, such as those made by Colad.
The 3M PPS cup system or similar for your spray gun is also recommended. This will greatly simplify the cleaning of your spray gun. Waterborne paints tend to dry to very hard residues which are difficult to remove from a gun, and while there is then a (relatively minor) cost for the cups, the simplicity of being able to dispose of the cup with its left-over catalysed paint saves a lot of time and effort. The rest of the gun is then put through your gunwash machine.
“You will need a dedicated gunwash machine for waterborne,” said Johnson, “At Glasurit we recommend having two separate machines, one for solventborne and one dedicated for waterborne paints. Solventborne systems are still required as the primer and clearcoats will still be solvent-based.”
Johnson explained that having two separate machines prevents accidental mix-ups of the wrong gun with the wrong wash system, resulting in contamination of cleaning products.
Most paint companies will have a coagulating powder which you mix with the wash water which separates the solid waste from the water in your gunwasher, which can then be recycled. The solid waste is then simply bagged and disposed of in the normal shop waste.
You will find that while there are some add-on costs in all this, there will be substantial saving on gunwash, with one Glasurit shop in Newcastle, NSW going from 60 litres per month to just 20 litres.
You will be able to use the same spray guns that you have been using for your solvent-based painting (subject to any regulations for HVLP which may be brought in), but it is strongly recommended that you have separate guns for your solventborne paints and separate guns for your waterborne, to avoid cross-contamination.
“If cross-contamination does occur it will result in curdling of  your basecoat as water and solvent do no mix,” Johnson stated. “If you want to run a one-gun strategy expect to have to do a lot of thorough cleaning. Other than that there’s no need to have to change anything on your guns.”
You may find that you will have to at least reassess your air supply system. There is no tolerance for oil or water in a waterborne paint system, so make sure your air system is top notch. If there’s any doubt install one of the trap systems, such as a Walkom TD3, to remove it.
Also, the amount of air you have available may prove to be insufficient. The demand for greater air flow and the advised use of at least hand-held driers may require you to increase the volume of your system. While you’re at it, check all the joints in your hoses. Air leaks in the booth can result in any dust being blown about, and because of the wetter nature of the surface you could find yourself with surface blemishes, eliminating air leaks will pay for itself in energy savings.
Cleaning will become a two-step process, with the normal wax and grease remover followed by the waterborne cleaner to ensure no cross-contamination between solvent and water – a small added cost.
For use of waterborne paints it is recommended that you use disposable wipes – not old pieces of material, which may be contaminated with grease or have inks or dyes in them from their days as a curtain or shirt or whatever.
Your personal protection equipment (PPE) does not change. “There is a belief that because waterborne does not have any solvents in it that you can dispense with the usual PPE,” says Johnson, “but it’s still paint, and a foreign substance to the body and you should still continue to use the same PPE as you have with your solvent based paints.”
About the only other expense you might have to consider is with the paint storage. Waterborne paint will cause rust if stored in ordinary steel cans, so you should have access to plastic containers or lacquer-lined tins, and any water-based paints (not Glasurit, which require a mixing process with a binder and then a viscosity reducer before it becomes a true water product) can suffer from freezing in cold environments, and if you’re in that type of environment you may need to consider temperature control in your paint storage area.

Paint Regulation Gathers Momentum

The move towards low VOC and/or waterborne paint is continuing to gather momentum with regulatory agencies if recent meetings in Sydney are any indication.
The NSW Government has appointed Rare Consulting to conduct a study and prepare recommendations for possible legislation.
A recent meeting of stakeholders drew response from just three paint companies, as well as several agencies and local Sydney councils. It’s believed the councils have an interest as they are likely to be responsible for enforcing any regulations.
The initial concern is for the environmental wellbeing of the Sydney basin, and special regulations will be put in place for that area.

These are likely to include:

•    paint restrictions (low VOC/waterborne) similar to those operating in the USA, Canada and/or Europe with a mandated level of VOCs:
•    an accreditation scheme for all painters, involving an education programme and the introduction of “Greencard” type licences;
•    equipment upgrades including compulsory HVLP spray guns and enclosed gunwash systems.
•    audit and inspection programmes to ensure compliance with accreditation, HVLP gun use, approved gunwash facilities, low-VOC coasting use, spray booth and paint mixing facilities to Australian standards and solvent management and disposal using a licensed contractor.
The indicated deadline for this is likely to be 2012. Given that it is expected that state-wide regulation will run parallel with this, and national regulation to also be very similar, the paint companies present at the meeting tried to explain the difficulty of meeting such tight compliance deadlines in terms of adequately training everyone, to avoid the difficulties which were met in Canada and Europe.
The suggested introduction of regulations on HVLP spray guns would be over 12 months from the start of the programme, and over 24 months for the introduction of enclosed gunwash machines, with a $200 rebate made available for all purchases in the first year and $100 in the second year.
Whatever regulations are settled upon in NSW are likely to set a standard for other states and national application.

Waterborne Paint: The Big Conversion – Part 1

Like it or not, a low VOC refinish world is coming. How will you deal with it, what are the issues and what’s the best way forward? BodyShop News examines the sometimes difficult aspects of making the switch to waterborne.

Waterborne paint. It’s one of the most spoken about and written about topics in the collision repair industry at the moment, and also one of the least understood, and that’s why there’s a degree of caution and/or suspicion about its use. And if it’s to be adopted by a body shop it means a complete change of approach and mindset by a painter or painters who have been deeply ingrained with the regimes of solvent-based paints.
So, why would you even be talking about changing everything you know, and starting pretty much from scratch again?
Well, probably the simplest answer to that is that if you don’t choose to swap over at some time, it’s inevitable that you will be forced to make the change, sooner or later. It’s better to be in the door earlier, when there’s room in the system to properly train you and your staff, than to be stuck with minimal training opportunities when there’s a deadline to convert everyone.
Many countries have already made the change, compulsorily, and many more are looking at it. Even China is considering mandating a change away from the current crop of high VOC (volatile organic compound)-based paints. And if China makes such a move we will be seen to be a long way behind, and the Australian government will not want to be seen to be behind China on a significant environmental issue.
So what are VOCs?
Wikipedia defines it as: “organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapour pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporise and enter the atmosphere. A wide range of carbon-based molecules . . . are VOCs. The term often is used in a legal or regulatory context and in such cases the precise definition is a matter of law.”
While VOCs accidentally released into the environment can damage soil and groundwater it is the vapours of VOCs escaping into the ambient air which are deemed to be the significant risk from the application and drying of paint.
VOCs are an important outdoor air pollutant. In this field they are often divided into the separate categories of methane (CH4) and non-methane (NMVOCs). Methane is an extremely efficient greenhouse gas which contributes to enhanced global warming. Other hydrocarbon VOCs are also significant greenhouse gases via their role in creating ozone and in prolonging the life of methane in the atmosphere. Within the NMVOCs, the aromatic compounds benzene, a carcinogen, and suspected carcinogens toluene and xylene, may lead to leukaemia through prolonged exposure.
Some VOCs also react with nitrogen oxides in the air in the presence of sunlight to form ozone. Although ozone is beneficial in the upper atmosphere because it absorbs UV and thus protecting humans, plants and animals from exposure to dangerous forms of solar radiation, it poses a health threat in the lower atmosphere by causing respiratory problems. In addition high concentrations of low level ozone can damage crops and buildings.
In other words, these are substances which these days are deemed to be unhealthy to an environmentally stressed planet. Regulatory agencies are looking at all of these compounds to determine methods of reducing the degree of release of these substances into our environment, and, you guessed it, the refinish automotive industry is seen as one of the significant targets since paint manufacturers make up 46 per cent of organic solvent users, the largest single sector.
The obvious solution is to use paint that does not depend on high levels of VOCs as solvents. BASF introduced waterborne paint in the early 1970s and this has been growing as a preferred option for many countries, while others have accepted low VOC paints as a better alternative.
Many see an enforced conversion to waterborne as completely unacceptable. “Why fix it if it aint broke” is the attitude, except that those who are responsible for preserving our health and our environment will tell you that it is well on its way to being “broke”, and unless we do something about it the consequences will be disastrous. And since these are the people who write the rules we don’t get a choice.
This won’t be the first time this industry has had to change its technology involved with painting. First it was a switch from nitrocellulose lacquer to acrylic lacquer, then it was a change to acrylic enamel, then to acrylic enamel with isocyanate catalysts, and on to acrylic urethane enamel and the current basecoat/clearcoat systems. In each case doomsayers predicted the end of the world as we knew it. We adapted each time in the past and we will adapt again.
There are financial costs and necessary changes to the way you do things. Despite what some might say, waterborne isn’t a straight forward step that will answer all your problems. It will solve some issues for you, and give you an edge in other areas, but it will also create some problems and require the introduction of management issues that you don’t deal with now.
The point is that a switch of paint technology is going to become compulsory at some time. It’s better to be at the front of the queue, having made the decision when there is time to train your guys and resolve the problems, than to be stuck with inadequate training and insoluble issues down the line when all the other tardy shops which didn’t want to make the switch are all competing for the paint companies’ time for training.
This is the reason why all the paint companies are promoting waterborne or low VOC. They want you to change now, not when they are hit with a tsunami of shops all clamouring for attention.
Training appears to be the significant issue. Imparting the right techniques and regimes is the linchpin to success with waterborne. While each paint company has a slightly different approach and timeline, the general idea is the same. Waterborne paints handle, tint and spray differently to solventborne paints. Manufacturers build their specific training programmes to teach their shop customers what to do and what not to do with the new colour systems.
And it can be something more basic but completely unexpected. For example, a shop in Perth which converted to Glasurit waterborne last year found that the dry, low humidity air in WA resulted in the paint drying too quickly and prevented its proper application. BASF had to re-engineer their paint for this ,market to suit this totally unexpected circumstance, slowing the drying process so that the painter could control the drying rate.
There will be a cost factor to be overcome in terms of equipment changes, but you simply don’t get a choice in this matter. You either meet these cost hurdles now or at some point in the future.
Yes, this will definitely come into force. Both Federal and State governments are accumulating data now on the amounts of paint being sold, the amount of solvent used, the number of vehicles painted and so on. They are well aware of the legislation introduced in various overseas markets and the impacts of the VOCs and the options available in both low VOC and waterborne technologies. There is no indication of time frames or the nature of possible regulations, but don’t expect it to be too far away. The examples overseas are all along the lines of an 18 month to two years change-over period after which the use of normal solventborne paint is simply prohibited.
It’s not as bad as you might suppose, as you still get to use solvent-based primers and for the moment at least solventborne clearcoats as the waterborne clearcoats are basically too slow in drying.
Over the coming months ABN will be looking at all the issues of converting to waterborne paints, warts and all, so that you get to understand what you are dealing with. With the assistance of BASF Paints and Glasurit we’ll look at the pros and the cons, the good and the bad, to enable you to make an educated decision of how you can go about the conversion with the least possible grief.

Glasurit 90 Line Waterborne

Glasurit 90 Line waterborne technology has been in the refinish market for more than 17 years and this same technology is chosen by prestige OEMs such as Rolls Royce and Maybach so users can rest assure that 90 Line will not only give a quality finish, but also has a proven track record.
Glasurit 90 Line is waterborne technology, is not water base, which means frost sensitivity is not an issue and no special heated storage is required. The product also offers a five year shelf life so back up stock is not an issue.
Although the mind set of the entire staff in a body shop would need to change when switching from solvent to waterborne technology, Glasurit 90 Line makes the transition easy. With its extremely good hiding power, fast flash off and ease of use, any spray painter who is comfortable with spraying solvent basecoat will find the switch easy.
BASF Coatings conducts Waterborne VIP days which explains and validates the advantages and efficiencies of using 90 Line. There is also a 90 Line demonstration which allows the VIP to touch and feel the product, providing all the necessary information to help the decision process of when to change.

Colad 100% Synthetic Paint Strainers

The innovative Colad synthetic paint strainers are manufactured from 100 per cent synthetic material without adhesive application.
The synthetic composition ensures they are suitable for straining all kinds of conventional paints and water-based paints in particular. The nylon element and strainer are carefully welded together and are fibre free.
As no adhesives are used no separation can occur when in contact with solvents or water. A large, rounded filter area ensures quick straining and time saving.
In contrast to conventional paper paint strainers, the 100 per cent synthetic material ensures that no pigments or water in water-based paints are absorbed. Colad paint strainers are light, easy to handle and compactly packed in plastic bags or specially designed dispenser boxes.
The strainers are colour coded, for easy mesh choice:
•    90 microns (transparent);
•    130 microns (blue);
•    190 microns (green); and
•    280 microns (red).
Colad synthetic paint strainers are marketed with the following accessories:
•    Ring with funnel to hold the strainer (no. 103505);
•    Strong spray gun holder (no. 103511); and
•    Separate dispenser box for efficient storage (no. 103506).
For more information contact the sole Australian Colad agent, Grech Sales & Marketing, on Tel: 0401 918 501 or email [email protected]